Jesuits name new prexy for Asia Pacific

The former Father Provincial of the Society of Jesus in the Philippines is the new President of the Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific (JCAP).

After nine and a half years, Fr Mark Raper SJ  stepped down as President of the JCAP on November 22, and handed over the leadership to Fr Antonio F. Moreno SJ in a simple Mass and dinner in Manila.

Among the many who came to say farewell to Fr Raper and welcome Fr Moreno were JCAP Consultors and Secretaries who were in Manila for the JCAP Extended Consult. The presence of former Superior General Adolfo Nicolás SJ, who was Fr Raper’s predecessor as JCAP President, made the occasion more memorable, having three JCAP Presidents in the same room at the same time.

Fr Raper celebrated his final Mass as President in the Chapel of Arrupe International Residence with Fr Moreno as concelebrant. In his homily, Fr Raper reflected on mission and love in relation to the Gospel of the day on the Parable of the Ten Pounds (Luke 19: 11 to 28).

“For Tony who takes on a new mission today, or for me ending one, or for any of you in your mission, the principal gift God gives us is to love us. Our Examen, first and foremost, is about how we respond to and take care of the love entrusted in us,” said Fr. Raper.

He reminded all gathered that loving is not about duty, but about engaging with God in a shared undertaking that is based on love, initiative and imagination. He recalled how St Ignatius led a group of men who were learned yet poor, but filled with passion and desire.

“We Jesuits and companions of Jesus flourish in proportion to our willingness to be creative, to dare, to be brave in our discernment, in our apostolates, and in our care for one another, in our love for God’s people, most especially his preferred ones, the poor.”

Fr Moreno expressed his gratitude to Fr Raper for nearly a decade of “fruitful, inspiring and engaging leadership”, recognizing how his predecessor at one point had three jobs.

“It has never been difficult for him to be President of this Conference and at the same time Superior of the missions in East Timor and Myanmar,” he said. “I don’t think the East Timor and Myanmar missions would be what they are now if not for the leadership of Mark.”

The new JCAP President acknowledged that he is treading on new terrain but said that he takes comfort in the assurance that this is all about mission.

“I never imagined myself to be here standing before you,” Fr Moreno said at the end of the Mass. “I look at my own journey since I was a child. I was quite happy to be in my nook and corner. Even in class, I hardly ever recited,” he shared.

“This is really about mission and thank you for your support. I ask for prayers for me and Mark as we undertake the mission that our Lord wants us to accomplish.”

Society of Jesus Father General Arturo Sosa appointed Fr Moreno, who was formerly Provincial of the Philippine Jesuit Province, to succeed Fr Mark Raper as the next JCAP President last April 22, 2017. Becoming the President of JCAP, Fr. Moreno will also be superior of the Arrupe International Residence.

Fr Moreno became the Philippines 11th Fr. Provincial in 2013 after six years as President of Ateneo de Zamboanga University.  He holds a PhD in Development Studies from the University College of Wales and a Master in Philosophy of Development Studies from the University of Sussex. He went to Ateneo de Manila University for his AB Pre-Divinity and his MA in Theology. His doctorate in Development Studies focused on the socio-political engagement of the Church with post-authoritarian Philippine society.

After his ordination in 1993, Fr Moreno did a brief stint teaching at St John Vianney Theological Seminary and doing pastoral work in Culion, which was once the world’s largest leper colony.  Following that, he served as Assistant to the Novice Master for three years.  He then went for studies in the United Kingdom where he spent five and a half years. 

Fr Tony was appointed Dean of Arts and Sciences and Vice President for Social Development at Xavier University, Cagayan de Oro in 2005, the position he held just before Ateneo de Zamboanga.

He was also the chaplain of the Circulo Zamboangueño, the local organization of Zamboangueños based in Cagayan de Oro since he speaks fluent Chabacano, from his days as a novitiate in the Ateneo de Zamboanga when it was still a college.

In recent years Fr Moreno has represented the Jesuit Conference on the Commissio Interprovinciale Permanens (CIP), a board of Provincials or Presidents from each Conference that assists Fr General and his Delegate with the ongoing governance of the inter-Provincial houses and works in Rome, such as the Gregorian University.  Most recently, he served as the JCAP member of the Coordinating Committee for General Congregation 36. (JCAP News)